If there was one thing we learnt in 2020, it was that you can’t predict what the year will look like. And yet, we are always going to try.
The fitness industry is continually evolving. While hard work and sweat remain at the core of any workout regime, trends change throughout the years just as they do in all areas of life from clothes to cooking.
Collected and collated below are some of the health and fitness trends that those in the know are foreseeing for the year to come. So read on, take notes, and be ready to get ahead of the curve. Just kidding—continue to do what works for you, and you might consider incorporating some of these concepts if they sound appealing.
1. Gym and home merge
Another lesson from last year: businesses must adapt to survive. One way that fitness companies and gyms did this was to bring their product into the living rooms of their clients and customers, so they could work out at home during lockdowns and social distancing measures. To use a bit of marketing jargon, we could consider this an “omnichannel” approach. Here in New Zealand, you may have seen people on Instagram doing their F45 workouts at home, or noticed Les Mills instructors broadcasting classes to the nation via TVNZ.
This hybrid offering will likely prove handy for many fitness enthusiasts, particularly as a large group of people continue to work from home post-COVID. If you like some flexibility in your fitness membership, ask about how you can work out both at the gym and at home.
2. Exercise as preventative medicine
Perhaps it’s due to the widespread deadly respiratory disease that ran rampant, but a lot of people are becoming conscious of their long-term health and resilience. In 2021, we expect to see a focus on this.
While vaccines are the most reliable way to give your immune system a helping hand, staying fit can mitigate risk factors of cardiovascular diseases and other conditions. This year and in the future, we may see people and their trainers tracking results that go beyond weight loss and aesthetics.
3. Fitness for the masses
Despite the health and well-being benefits of exercise as outlined above, fitness education and access to resources are not as universal as they should be. We hope that in 2021 there will be a move to support organisations that make fitness available and accessible to everyone who will benefit from it. In New Zealand, this includes groups like BBM Motivation and No Excuse Mom New Zealand.
4. Explore more
With lockdowns of varying degrees in place all over the world, people have learnt to appreciate the ability to get out and explore their area. Level 4 restrictions in New Zealand meant that for many people, their own two feet were the only way they could leave their property. Add it all up and you get a renewed interest in combining exercise with outdoor adventure.
Whether it’s hiking bush trails, running around the block, or climbing mountains, exercising outside the gym is likely to be big in 2021. You can enjoy some quality time with friends or family, explore your own backyard, and get plenty of steady-state cardio.
5. Fitness wearables’ steady rise
This is nothing particularly new here: apple watches, fitbits, garmins, and more have gradually changed the wearables game. These devices have gone from simply recording steps to showing your heart rate, playing music, recording routes, tracking training progress, and much more. This progress should continue into this year, and it is thought that watches and other wearables may be incorporated into online fitness classes to make the experience more interactive.
There is huge potential for this kind of wearable smart technology! So watch this space—and sign up for a Strava account while you’re at it. This popular form of social media for fitness enthusiasts is a great way to connect with other runners, bikers, and adventurers.
6. Shoes are going eco
Well, not all of them are. But with low-carbon emission options now on the market, notably Kiwi company Allbirds and their new range of “dashers”, it’s almost inevitable that eco-conscious people will begin to increase their focus to include what they wear on their feet.
Although they are the pioneers, Allbirds are not the only shoe company to recognise the importance of reducing carbon emissions. In fact, they are teaming up with the mighty Adidas to produce a high-performance shoe with the lowest carbon footprint yet. With access to each other’s specific areas of expertise, these two companies can set the standard for eco-friendly exercise gear.
7. Fast fitness
Micro-HIIT workouts have been rising in popularity, and with the busy lives that people lead nowadays, they are likely here to stay. Quick, efficient, and easy to do at home, these workouts are a great option for many.
One example of this is the “7 Minute Workout Challenge” app which claims—backed by research—that it can “transform your body for a mere seven minutes a day.” FiiT is another app that offers speedy but sweaty training sessions. Although some are almost as long as your normal fitness class, some are as short as ten minutes to fit into the cracks of life. You don’t need to have large amounts of time to dedicate to exercise. Here’s hoping that in 2021, more people will be able to fit fitness into their routine with micro-HIIT and similar workouts.
8. The eyes have it (yoga, that is)
This one’s an interesting development: yoga for your eyes. This wellness trend is actually as old as the rest of the yoga practice but has recently come into the spotlight for its great eye health benefits.
Exercising your eyes can improve their focus, make them look brighter, and even ease tension headaches. It can be done from the couch and includes stretching and flexing muscles around the eyes, switching focus repetitively, blinking, and using your hands to press on the facial muscles to relax them.
9. Challenges bring change
Everyone loves a bit of competition, and fitness companies are using this to get people moving. This doesn’t just mean competing against others; even competing against oneself can be a good motivation when it comes to training.
Strava is essentially social media for steady-state cardio: runners, cyclists, swimmers, walkers, and more track their routes, their speed, their elevation, and other statistics. Users can compare these to their past efforts and to their friends and acquaintances. It doesn’t stop there, though: the platform offers challenges including distance challenges by month and virtual races between users. Other apps are on board with this too. The Nike Run App has similar individual or community challenges. There is even a prize offered for one specific set of challenges: a visit to Nike World Headquarters.
If you are the type of person who responds to a bit of competition with yourself or others, the platforms listed above and other similar ones might bring you the motivation you need to progress.
Whatever happens in 2021, there will be plenty of opportunities to exercise in a way that suits you.
Are you foreseeing any health and fitness trends that aren’t listed here? We’d love to hear them!